Event—Scholarly Seminars

Adam Mertz, University of Illinois at Chicago

A Campaign for Alternative Development”: The Fight Against Interstate Highway Construction and the Rural-Urban Political Divide, 1970-1978, Adam Mertz

To promote economic growth, Wisconsin politicians—with support from state organized labor, large businesses, and chambers of commerce—advocated constructing an interstate highway between two of Wisconsin’s major cities. State farm groups and environmental groups, however, opposed the interstate highway because it would disrupt farms and habitats—and foster broader suburban sprawl. Opposition to this interstate highway bred animosity to state government, chambers of commerce, and organized labor while cultivating populist politics against urban-based Democrats. Interstate opponents proved just as critical of business interests as they were of organized labor and of market forces as they were of government bureaucracy.

Respondents: Naomi Williams, Rutgers University, and Jon Shelton, University of Wisconsin Green Bay